Thousands of Southern Californians will flock to tree lots across the region searching for the perfect Christmas tree during the next two weeks. The Automobile Club of Southern California is reminding consumers how to avoid vehicle damage and crashes by following a few simple safety tips.
“While finding just the right tree may seem like the hard part, getting it home safely is where the real challenge begins,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. “Just like moving furniture, appliances or other large objects, transporting a tree is no different. If not properly secured, a tree can cause vehicle damage such as scratched paint, torn door seals or distorted window frames. Even worse, it could fly off or out of the vehicle and become a danger to other drivers.”
And vehicle owners are responsible if their tree causes damage, so it is important to be familiar with the proper way of securing it to the automobile, added Spring. According to a AAA survey, 20% of those who say they will purchase a Christmas tree plan to tie the tree to the roof of their vehicle without using a roof rack. Also, 24% say they plan to place the tree in the bed of their pickup truck without securing it, which can create a safety hazard for other drivers if it bounces out on the trip home.
With a little preparation, the right tools and the right vehicle, transporting a Christmas tree can be safe and easy with these tips from the Auto Club:
- Plan – Before heading out to buy a real Christmas tree, make sure to bring strong rope or ratchet straps, an old blanket, gloves and of course the right vehicle. A car with a roof rack is ideal but a pickup truck, SUV, van or minivan can work just as well.
- Wrap & Cover It – Once you’ve found the perfect tree, have the lot wrap it in netting before loading it. Loose branches can also be secured with rope or twine to help protect the tree from damage. Also, prior to loading the tree, cover the roof with an old blanket to prevent scratches to the vehicle paint and protect the car from any damage.
- Trunk First – Place the tree on the roof rack or in the bed of the truck with the trunk facing the front of the car. If the vehicle does not have a roof rack and is large enough, place the tree inside.
- Secure It – Tie down the tree at its bottom, center and top using strong rope or nylon ratchet straps. Avoid using the nylon offered by many tree lots. Use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop the rope or strap around the tree trunk above a branch to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement.
- Tug Test – Once tied down, give the tree several strong tugs from various angles to make sure it is secured in place and will not come loose.
- Nice & Easy – Drive slowly and take back roads if possible. Higher speeds can create significant airflow that can damage your tree or challenge even the best tie-down methods.